Southampton’s B team suffered their first Premier League 2 defeat of the season on Friday night, losing 6-2 to a Leeds side littered with first team stars.
With Jesse Marsch’s outfit not in action until October due to postponements, the American used Friday night’s encounter at Elland Road as an opportunity to get minutes into the legs of some of his squad, resulting in a difficult night for Saints’ youngsters.
With both sides unbeaten heading into the encounter, the inclusion of first team regulars Liam Cooper, Luke Ayling, Junior Firpo and Patrick Bamford skewered the odds in favour of the Yorkshire outfit.
Buoyed on by over 10,000 inside Elland Road, Leeds’ experienced starting eleven were quick out of the blocks, claiming the lead just four minutes in.
Having been denied by an offside flag moments earlier, England international Bamford made no mistake second time around with an emphatic finish from Crysencio Summerville’s clever pass - another member of Marsch’s first team squad.
Not to be deterred, the visitors almost struck back immediately, with Diamond Edwards’s low drive flying just wide of the post.
However, keen to avoid a spirited comeback, the hosts took charge of proceedings and made their Premier League experience count.
Having set up the first, Summerville scored the second, finishing a mazy run with a cool finish into the bottom corner.
Staying in the spotlight by winning a penalty with 10 minutes of the half remaining, Bamford did the rest from 12 yards, before Cooper headed in a fourth as the opening 45 minutes drew to a close.
Far from dispirited, it was Saints who launched the first attack of the second half, as the lively Edwards fired a shot just wide of the upright once again.
Holding off Leeds until the 53rd minute, Bamford completed his hat-trick after good work once again from Summerville.
Rounding off the home side’s scoring, Sonny Perkins maintained his 100% goal scoring record in league matches this season by curling an effort into the bottom corner.
Not letting their heads drop, Dave Horseman’s side rallied for a response and found one in the form of Dom Ballard.
A lightning breakaway presented a chance for the striker, who duly converted.
With the game gone, Saints set about further reducing the arrears, managing to do so when Sam Bellis expertly found the back of the net from the edge of the box in the 89th minute.
Producing a commendable performance in the circumstances, Saints will look to bounce back in the Papa John’s Trophy against Exeter City on Tuesday 27th September.